tv U.S. Senate CSPAN July 18, 2013 12:00pm-5:01pm EDT
this dilemma who have these same concerns. by the way, this is not the only problem with obamacare. there are many others. the president keeps saying there are people in town that want this plan to fail. they keep bringing up obamacare because they want it to fail. mr. president, the plan is already failing. it's failing by your own admission. you have just had to cancel, you have just had to suspend one of the critical components of this bill because it's not doable. this plan is already failing on its own. and, by the way, if you're going to accuse us of wanting obamacare to fail you better accuse the teamsters of it because they have the same criticisms on this point that i've raised here today. i think we've reached the point when no matter how we voted on obamacare -- i wasn't here but no matter how you may have voted on obamacare if you were, no matter who you voted for for president, a republican or democrat or independent, this is bigger than politics. this is about people.
today i highlighted the plight 135 people in florida are facing but hundreds of thousands will soon face. as american we have to come to grips with the fact this law is a terrible mistake. and that we can't go forward with it because it's going to hurt millions of middle-class americans in the ways i've just described. we're going to have an opportunity to get this right in september because we're going to have to come here and vote on a short-term budget to fund the government. and i really implore my colleagues to use that as an opportunity to put the brakes on this terrible mistake before more people lose their insurance, to put the brakes on this before more people lose their jobs and put the brakes on this before more people lose their businesses. and in that short-term funding bill we should not pay for the implementation of obamacare. and let me be clear, anyone who votes for the short-term budget that funds obamacare is voting to move forward with obamacare. don't come here and say i'm against obamacare if you're willing to vote for a budget
that funds it. if you pay for it, you own it. and i want to make clear to the employees of gatorland and the people of florida and anyone who is watching i want the working people of florida and america to know i for one will not vote for any bill or any budget that funds the implementation of this disaster. does that mean we shouldn't do anything about health insurance in america? of course it doesn't mean that. we should do something, something that protects what's good about the current system and fixes what is bad with it. not a plan like obamacare that throws out what's good about the current system to try to fix what's bad with it and in the end messing it all up. so we should repeal obamacare and we should replace it. replace it with ideas that will allow uninsured americans and underinsured americans to find affordable insurance without taking away other people's insurance and jobs. for example, ex expand flexible savings accounts like ones every member of congress has access
to. that allows you to take money out of your paycheck tax free, don't taxes on that money and put it in a savings account for health purposes. you make that every month and starts a adding up. you can use it to buy medicines or pay for a co-payment or any other expense. you have to use it on health care but you got it tax-free. if members of congress get this, why shouldn't every american have chance to have sploog like that? -- something like that? i used that account to pay for my daughter's grace braces. millions of americans would have the chance to do that. why don't they, mr. president? because obamacare instead of encouraging it, undermines it. it lowered the amount you can save from $5,000 to $2,500 and ridiculously enough, it says if i go to the pharmacy and buy children's advil for my kids, in order for me to pay for it with my flex savings account i have to get a prescription from a doctor. think about that. you buy children's advil because
your kid has a fever, you have to go to a doctor and get a prescription if you want to use your money to pay for it. obamacare undermines flex savings account, not encourages them. another idea, we should allow people to buy insurance tax-free with their own tax-free money. if your employer pays -- let's use the example of gatorland. your monthly premium is a thousand dollars. they don't pay taxes on $800, but tomorrow a business like that decides we're going to give you the $800 a month and you buy insurance from any company. if they do that, you have to pay taxes on the $800. if the employer buys it, they don't pay taxes on the money. but if you buy the insurance for yourself you pay taxes on the money. that's ridiculous. that's something we should be for. here's another one. why can't we americans buy insurance from any company that will sell it to us? i live in florida. if there is a company in georgia that will sell me health
insurance, why can't i buy it? because they're not licensed by the state of florida? this ignores the fact that every american needs a different type of health insurance. so if you are like me with four children you need a family plan that covers a lot of things and it's going to cost you more. but what if you're a 25-year-old healthy person, single person? you hardly ever get sick. what you want is a hospitalization and catastrophic insurance account and then a health savings account so if you get the flu you take $50 or $100 and pay the dollars for the visit. if you get hit by a car, your insurance steps up and pays for it. but a plan like that is more affordable but right now you can't buy it because most states have rules and most of these rules say you either have to sell them a cadillac or nothing at all. what if you don't want a cadillac? what if you want a geo? the same is true in health insurance here and it's wrong. she should encourage those
things. look, it's not too late to change all this. but it would be a terrible mistake to move forward on this. this is not about defeating a president's agenda or wanting it to fail or rooting for it to fail. we do have a health insurance problem and we should address it. but what we're doing now is going to hurt an economy that's already struggling. there are real people today that are going to lose their jobs, lose hours at their jobs, paychecks are going to be cut, lose the health insurance share happy with, there are businesses forced to absorb costs by laying people off or raising prices or both. people will lose coverage and be thrown into these exchanges that don't exist yet. this is a disaster. we should take the time to slow this thing down and we have a chance to do that in september. and as i repeat, i'll repeat it again, i for one will not vote for any budget that funds the implementation of this disaster and hurts people in this way. and i hope my colleagues will put partisanship and pride aside
and come together behind the fact that this bill if it goes through, if obamacare goes through and begins to be implemented, it is going to hurt us in ways that are potentially irreversible. it's not too late to stop this. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. harkin: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: madam president, i'm pleased that we're finally at the point where we can vote on the nomination of thomas perez to serve as secretary of labor. indeed, it seems like the most important question before dawes has gotten lost in all the debate. will tom perez be a good secretary of labor? and the answer is unequivocally yes. without question, he has the knowledge and experience needed to guide this critically important agency. his outstanding work in maryland as their secretary of labor has won him the support of the business community and workers alike. here's a quote from the endorsement letter of the maryland chamber of commerce.
quote -- "mr. perez proved himself to be a pragmatic public official who is willing to bring differing voices together. the maryland chamber had the opportunity to work with mr. perez on an array of issues of importance to ploifers in maryland from unemployment and work force development to the housing and foreclosure crisis. despite differences of opinion, mr. perez was always willing to allow all parties to be heard and we found him to be fair and collaborative. i believe that our experiences with him here in maryland bode well for the nation" -- end quote. that's a pretty strong endorsement by a chamber of commerce for a nominee that the minority leader this morning characterized as a -- quote -- "a left-wing ideologue willing to bend the law to achieve his ideological ends" -- end quote. that's what the minority leader said this morning. that grossly unfair characterization is manifestly
inconsistent with the experiences of the republican leaders and business leaders who have actually worked with tom perez. these people clearly disagree with the minority leader's assessment of mr. perez's qualifications and character. i'm informed that the minority leader never met with mr. perez. and mr. perez offered to meet with him but the minority leader said no. and yet the minority leader can come down here and make these kind of judgments as to his character and his integrity? now we've heard a lot of discussion about the controversy surrounding mr. perez's nomination the last couple of days on the senate floor, his integrity and character as i said has been viciously and unfairly attacked. i take particular issue with the minority leader's suggestion this morning that mr. perez doesn't follow the law or believe that it applies to him. i would respectfully suggest that the minority leader needs
to check his facts. to the contrary, tom perez believes deeply in the law. he believes that all the laws on the books, especially the laws that protect our most important rights, the right to vote, the right to be free-free from discrimination in the workplace, the right of people with disabilities to live in their own communities, he believes strongly that these rights should be respected and enforced. these are the same laws that i think sometimes some on my republican side would like to forget are on the books. but these laws matter. voting rights matter, fair housing rights matter, the rights of people with disabilities matter. and that's what tom perez has fought for. and we shouldn't shy away from using every tool in our arsenal to strengthen our enforcement of civil rights laws. these laws are part of what makes our country great. and i am incredibly proud, incredibly proud of the work
that mr. perez has done at the department of justice to make these rights a reality again after years of neglect. he should be applauded, not vilified, for the service that he has provided to this country. he is a leader whose career has involved passionate and visionary work for justice. yes, he's had tokyo to make difficult difficult decisions. he's faced management challenges. and as we know now, he's been the target of accusations and mudslinging and character assassination. but i have looked carefully into mr. perez's background and record of service as the chair of the authorizing and oversight committee. i can assure senators that tom perez has the strongest possible record of professional integrity and that any allegations to the contrary are unfounded. they are simply that, unfounded allegations. there is absolutely nothing that calls into question his ability to fairly enforce the law as it
is written. or his professional integrity or moral character, or his ability to lead the department of labor. i am particularly disappointed that republicans continue to raise concerns regarding mr. perez's involvement in the global resolution of two cases involving st. paul, minnesota, the case is called magner and newell. i spoke about that at length, we've heard the republicans talk about it, it's been debated exhaustively and quite frankly, there is no "there" there. there's nothing there. this is an issue that the help committee and the judiciary committee have both thoroughly examined and found no cause for concern. the house oversight and judiciary committees have also thoroughly explored the underlying facts and, in fact, both the majority and minority staff on the house oversight committee has released reports on the matter. and with reports -- what the reports reveal is the evidence is clear that mr. perez acted
ethically and appropriately at all times. indeed, he had clearance to proceed as he did from the appropriate ethics officers at the department of justice. noted experts in legal ethics have confirmed this. there is just no foundation for any allegation of wrongdoing by mr. perez in these cases involving st. paul, minnesota. but yet they keep being drummed up but they're just allegations. anybody can make an allegation especially here on the senate floor. you can make alkinds -- all kinds of allegations. i simply ask for proof. back them up. there is no proof. there is nothing to back up those allegations that now mr. -- somehow mr. perez acted unethically or in violation of law. now, i'm also deeply disappointed my republican friends is suggesting that mr. perez has been unresponsive to requests for information by members of this body.
nothing could be further from the truth. mr. perez has been as open and aboveboard as he possibly can be both with this committee, my committee, and with members of the senate. he has met with any member personally who requested a meeting. he requested a meeting with the minority leader and the minority leader said no. he appeared before our committee in a public hearing, he answered more than 200 written questions. he bent over backward to respond to any and all concerns raised about his work at the department of justice. this administration has also been extraordinarily accommodating to my republican colleagues especially to their concerns, again, about mr. perez's handling of the magner and newell cases while at the department of justice. the administration has produced thousands of documents. they've arranged for the interview of government employees and access to transcripts of inspector general interviews. they have provided access to mr. perez's personal emails. they have facilitated almost
unprecedented levels of disclosure to alleviate any concerns. they have responded to every request for information, including the letter by chairman issa that senator isakson put in the record this morning. madam president, i'd like to include in the record the response to chairman issa's response from the department of justice at this point. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: madam president, i just ask for 60 more seconds, one more minute. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: in short, the department of justice has made all emails available for review. it is true that congressman issa has continued to repeat his request, but that doesn't mean that perez, mr. perez and the administration have not been responsive because they have. the fact is this nominee has been more than thoroughly vetted. he has the character and the integrity and the expertise to lead the department of labor.
the president has chosen mr. perez to join his cabinet and there's absolutely no reason why the senate should not consent to this choice. i am proud to support mr. perez's nomination. he will be an asset to the department of labor and to our entire country and i look forward to the opportunity to work with him in this new position to help all working americans. madam president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous offered, the question occurs on -- the presiding officer: under the previous order, the question occurs on the nomination. all those in favor say aye. a senator: yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. there is. the clerk will call the roll. quoruvote:
any senators wishing to vote or wishing to change their vote? if not, the ayes are 54, the yeas are 46, and the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table, and the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action. mrs. boxer: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: madam president, i ask that we -- the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the senate will be in order. mrs. boxer: madam president, i ask that we resume consideration of calendar item number 98 and take up the nomination of gina mccarthy to be the administrator of the e.p.a. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: environmental protection agency, regina mccarthy of massachusetts to be administrator. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until 2:30 will be equally divided in the usual form prior to a cloture vote on the mccarthy nomination.
mrs. boxer: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: madam president, as chairman of the environment and public works committee, this is a day that i have longed for for a long time. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. mrs. boxer: this is a day i have longed for for a long time because this has been the longest time the environmental protection agency has been without an administrator in all of history. you could not have a more qualified nominee, you could not have a more bipartisan nominee, the bottom line gina mccarthy has worked for five republican governors, she is really a beloved individual, and i want to thank so many outside of this body who have weighed in on her behalf, including christie todd whitman, the former republican administrator of the e.p.a. and then governor jody well. it has meant a lot to gina mccarthy, it's meant a lot to us to those of us who know the
e.p.a. deserves a leader, and this woman, gina mccarthy, deserves a promotion. so i'll be back on the floor in about an hour or so just to make some more brief comments, but i want to thank my colleagues from both sides of the aisle. we did avert a tough, tough challenge for both parties, we averted that. i'm very happy we did, and one of the benefits of that agreement is we are having votes on people as qualified as gina mccarthy. i would yield the floor. i don't know if there is anyone else who wishes to speak so i would note the absence of a quorum. i take that back. i see senator sessions is here. i would yield the floor. mr. sessions: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: i would ask consent -- well, no quorum call, i believe. i ask unanimous consent that after my remarks, senator reid be recognized for up to 15 minutes. the presiding officer: without
objection. mr. sessions: madam president, i'd like to talk about the nomination of gina mccarthy to serve as administrator of the environmental protection agency. i had the pleasure of meeting with her early in the confirmation process and talking with her at length about many important issues. she's experienced, i believe she's a good person, she's given assurance that e.p.a. would become more responsible, at least my interpretation of her response would be that, and her management has been encouraging. however, the environmental protection agency appointment is no small matter. the job of the e.p.a. administrator has the potential to impact the life --. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. mr. sessions: i thank the chair. the job of the e.p.a. administrator has the potential to impact the life of every american in both positive and
negative ways. just for example, in the 1970's the congress passed the clean air act. it focused on pollutants. we were talking about nox and sox, sulfur dioxide, particulates, things that adversely affect the health of americans. at that point congress had no dream in its mind of a problem of global warming that might arise, and back a big issue in the future. and nor did congress have any inclination that carbon dioxide, plant food, that product in the atmosphere that plants take in and breathe out oxygen and we breathe in oxygen and out co2 would be declared a pollutant. and by a 5-4 decision, the supreme court seemed to declare that, although was not
absolutely mandatory, and e.p.a. has seized that, and they say that, for example, co2 is a pollutant. congress has never voted to declare co2 a pollutant. i believe it's a stretch and an abuse of supreme court authority to interpret the law we passed in the 1970's as including that. and if co2 is a pollutant, as the e.p.a. now assumes and asserts that it is, every back yard barbecue, every lawnmower as well as every factory, plant in america is subject to their control because they're required to limit and control pollutants. and this is how things happen in america. and so we have an unelected bureaucracy, the environmental
protection agency, virtually unaccountable to the public, often refusing steadfastly to produce reasonable answers to inquiries put to them by the congress, and they dictate matters that impact every person in america. this is an awesome power. it's really something too little discussed in america. i'm going to talk about another subject briefly here, so i understand ms. mccarthy and her experience, and she's going to be elevated now from the clean air section, where they've been hammering coal, hammering natural gas, and other fuels, carbon fuels in their regulations to a degree it's driving up the cost for every american to obtain energy energy, electricity and the automobiles and the heating in
their homes. i want to focus a few minutes now on a central problem at the e.p.a. its disregard for congress, the laws as written, and the use of unlawful agency guidance, agency guidance. these are documents that they issued to effectively rewrite the law in a way that favors the administration's policy and political agenda. that's what we're seeing too much of. people say, oh, they just don't like the e.p.a., all these complaints from farmers and businesses, it's all just overreaction, these are guys that want to pollute the atmosphere and the farmlands and do all these things and they're not reasonable people. most americans aren't dealing face to face with the guidance, the regulations the e.p.a.
officials who attempt to dictate so much of what they do. there's perhaps no better illustration of the dynamic than in the context the administration's effort to grab control over ditch, stream, and creek and pond in the country. we actually had a vote on this issue in may during the debate on the water resources development act. i joined with my colleague, senator barrasso, in introducing an amendment, the barrasso-sessions amendment, number 868 to the water resources development act. a clear majority of the senate, 52 members voted for our amendment that would stop e.p.a. from implementing an agency guidance document that would vastly expand the agency's jurisdiction over the clean water act. so they just issue a guidance,
direct it to all the subordinates and tell them how the law is to be enforced but actually it becomes a new law. what they say becomes the effect of an actual statute. first, the problem is, it's contrary to the plain reading of the statute, what they've been doing. the clean water act. this law enacted in 1972 requires a federal permit for activities impacting navigable waters, navigable waters. that's what's in the statute. which congress has defined as waters of the united states. e.p.a.'s guidance document broadly interprets this term, broadly interprets it and will give agency employees throughout the country the authority to make case-by-case determinations with virtually no jurisdictional limits whatsoever. i recently asked ms. mccarthy
about this issue. she did not detail her views, she would not answer specific questions. the supreme court has ruled several times on the meaning of this jurisdictional term, most recently in this -- in 2006 decision, just a few years ago. arapanos vz u.s. that 4-1 decision, which i think the chair doesn't often see in her state when she was attorney general, not often -- but a 4-1-4 decision, the supreme court held the army corps of engineers overreached by asserting jurisdiction under the clean water act over nonnavigable wetlands in that case. on behalf of the four-member plurality compromised of
justices scalia, thomas, and eliteo, they wrote that waters of the united states includes nonnovember igable wetlands only if there is adjacent channel that contains a relatively permanent body of water connected to traditional interstate navigable waters. that's stretching it pretty far. at least there's supposed to be a stream connected to navigable waters. justice scalia concluded the wetland has a continuous surface connection with that water. so there's at least some continuous connection to the water. it doesn't dry up most of the year and only have water in it when it rains heavily. the opinion of justice scalia is to me in line with the clean water act's original meaning of the term. navigable waters. the key swing vote was provided by justice kennedy who joined
justice eliteo making five -- alito and remanding the army corps' decision in that case under a different interpret prettation of the waters of the united states. with justice kennedy's concurrence, five of the nine justices rejected the idea that the e.p.a. and the army corps have unlimited jurisdiction over anything wet in the united states. as a result in 2008 e.p.a. under the bush administration issued a guidance document explaining the agency's interpretation of waters of the united states in light of the supreme court decision. that document did not seek to expand the agency's decision or change existing regulations. rather, in that guidance document the agency adopted a reasonable view that recognizes the need for a significant nexus to traditionally navigable waters. a connection at least to
navigable waters. we call them branches in alabama. sometimes they dry up. not a navigable stream. however, soon after entering office the obama administration sought to replace that 2008 guidance document. expanding their power. even though there had been no intervening supreme court case with a guidance document. so they submitted a guidance document that would vastly expand the agency's assertion of jurisdiction and power. so a second problem with e.p.a.'s approach is that this -- their approach is contrary to the principle of cooperative federalism. which was foundational to the enactment of the clean water act from the beginning. that principle recognizes that there must be a strong partnership between the federal government and the states if we
are to address environmental challenges. one way the law recognizes this approach is through giving a limited role for the environmental protection agency. the states have the primary responsibility for protecting water quality, not the e.p.a. water is primarily to be protected by the states. this was contemplated in the clean water act. but e.p.a.'s guidance document would seek to involve e.p.a. in a wide range of permitting actions that should otherwise be left to the states. i believe this guidance is based on a false premise that water quality is protected only by e.p.a. only they can be trusted. not the people who live in the states where the water is. so finally, e.p.a. is circumventing congress by using a guidance document to rewrite the law. for these reasons, i will be continuing to work on this
issue. it's very important in our e.p.a. 2003 -- e.p.w. committee and i would work to stop the power grab by the e.p.a. a majority of the senate voted for that but didn't receive the 60 votes required for passage. i'm disappointed to date that ms. mccarthy has not agreed to push back and -- back down from the aggressive bureaucratic power grabs that have come to define this administration's use of e.p.a. there are many more problems within the environmental protection agency. they've used being unelected, used powers that congress has never explicitly given them to regulate virtually every aspect of america's economy. i hope that ms. mccarthy will do a good job if she's given
this position but she serves at the pleasure of the president, she'll take her lead from him and it's quite clear he has no intention of constricting the expansion of e.p.a. power but indeed is-hand expanding -- expanding it to the fullest extent he can achieve and that's very troubling. i thank the chair and would yield the floor. mr. reed: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: thank you, mr. president. over the last few weeks, many of my colleagues have been engaged in a very serious, very deliberative, very thoughtful attempt to deal with the issue of student loan interest rates which doubled july 1st. they have contributed significantly in terms of trying to move this issue forward and reach a thoughtful and appropriate conclusion. from what i have heard, the approach, the student loan
interest rate reduction act of 2013, i don't think despite those good efforts and good intentions they've reached the objective, which is to make college affordable for all of our students, to somehow try to prevent this tidal wave of student financial debt which is in some cases overwhelming so many students and families across the country. instead of emphasizing the students, i think what they've done is just try to shield the government from investing in those students. the clear impact of the legislation that is being proposed is that it will increase the cost for education for the students. now, we were in a position where we reduced the legislation to the rate of 3.4%. we had an extension for one year to this july. it doubled to the previous existing law to 6.8%. what this proposal does is they are able to keep the rate relatively low, although it goes
up a bit higher than the 3.4%, but invariably, just mathematically, it gets very high. now, we have placed some caps there and that's something i salute the authors for their efforts to put caps on the different programs, but those caps are very high also. the inevitability is that the one sure thing is that over the course of the next few years, students will be paying more for higher education at a time when they can afford it less and less and at a time when we need more fully qualified graduates to take the jobs of this new century to be competitive internationally. so we have before us i think, despite all these great efforts, legislation that will shift more and more costs to students. instead of preventing the doubling of these rates to 6.8%, it would gradually raise these
rates above 6.8%. we might see one or two or three years of rates that are relatively below that number, but inevitably, mathematically those rates will go beyond 6.8%. and the caps are rather high. what we'll see is that a generation of students, particularly in my sense -- and the numbers seem to bear thattous -thatout -- the high ss of today will be paying a lot more for their student loans and their families will be paying a lot more and it will add to the debt of these students and their families, and it will restrict their ability to become the kind of not only qualified workers in our economy but also the people that drive the economy. young people who buy homes, buy automobiles, who are able because of their skills to earn enough to contribute not just to the productivity of the country but their own ability to purchase and keep that engine of
the economy moving forward. and there's no real guess as to what level it would go up because now we're moving away from a fixed rate and moving to an adjustable-rate loan. and the rates have been pegged to the ten-year treasury bill, a rate that we know's going up. it's gone up nearly 1% since just may. and in this environment, it is likely to continue to go up. and the rates that students will pay could rise much more quickly than the projections even that c.b.o. is suggesting. it could rise because of federal reserve policy. if they decide to unwind quantitative easing and in such a way that rates shoot up, then those rates could -- could just spike very dramatically. now, students and advocates have raised their voices loud and clear urging us not to take this kind of action. they've said, you know, no deal is better than a bad deal. so the people we are trying to help are actually saying, no,
that's not the kind of help we need. so i, with deep regret, believe that this is not the right approach going forward. what the students and advocates have asked us to do is to say keep it at 3.4%. i proposed legislation to do that for a year so that we could work on some of the fundamental issues that are driving costs, such as the incentives and disincentives on colleges for tuition. the issue of -- which is separate but very important, well, how do we not only provide reasonable interest rates but how do we refinance all those students that are overwhelmed by debt? how do they take advantage of historically low rates today? all those difficult issues are being put off. i think they should be engaged and i think we need the time to engage on those issues. unlike the approach of at least
another year of 3.4%, the proposal before us would lock in about $184 billion in student loan revenue. that is on the current c.b.o. baseline. and then there's an additional $715 million which this proposal would generate. all that is coming out of the pockets of students and families. now, paying for college is tough and this legislation i think unfortunately could make it tougher because it would put in a permanent structure for setting student loan interest rates that could quickly result in students and parents paying more for student loans. this is not a -- a temporary fix to get us to a better place in terms of incentives for tuition, in terms of refinancing, in terms of letting students more actively and more affordably pursue college education. this is a long-term fix. and it's just simple math.
in a zero-budget environment -- and that's one of the principles that is incorporated in this legislation -- reducing what students pay today mean that students have to pay more tomorrow. if we're assuming a 6.8% fixed rate over ten years and we lower that rate, as this legislation does, then just do the math. it's going to have to be higher to keep it zero, neutral with respect to the budget. and that's what's going to happen. so we're going to have some relief today but it will be followed inevitably by students who will pay more and individually have a much larger burden to bear. so we are in a position i think of taking steps that's going to make college more expensive, simply, at a time when we have to make it more affordable, not only for individual families and students but for the future and success of our economy. now, we are also departing from our past experience with market-based interest rates in
the federal student loan programs. this proposal also locks in historically high surcharges on top of basing the loans on a higher cost instrument. previously, we were using the 91-day t-bill, which because it was a short-term note, the interest rates were lower relative than the ten-year note. well, now we're using a much higher baseline and then we're adding historically higher premiums to that baseline. so the legislation builds in additional costs that we haven't used, even when we had rates that were moved based on market conditions. under the market-based rates that were in effect between 1998-2006, students benefited from historically low interest rates. these rates werendexed, as i said, at the lower 91-day treasury-bill rate rather than the 10-year treasury-bill rate. and as i mentioned before, we already know that 10-year treasury-bill rate is moving up. we are making these changes from
the -- from the perspective of interest rates at exactly the wrong time, at the bottom of the interest rate curve, as it starts its climb up. that argues to me, and, in fact, frankly i think most people if they were going to make a choice on a loan today, would try to pick a fixed rate, even if it was a little higher than the introductory rate on a variable loan because of the experience of the last several years and because of what they're seeing all around them -- rising interest rates over time. this year, borrowers were repaying these loans -- i'm talking about the loans that were made this in that period e 1998-2006, have an interest rate of 2.35%. and in the last five years, they rate averaged 2.41%. they benefited from the declining rate. they benefited from the huge federal reserve quantitative easing. they benefited from an economy that slowed down, quite frankly, as interest rates were falling. now we're on the other side of that curve and students won't benefit from the rates -- the
market rates. they will actually see higher and higher rates as we go forward. and, you know, we offered these rates in the context of the old program where we had to also subsidize banks. so today i would think, with the banks out of the picture, with the government through direct lending doing the lending, we should be able to find a solution that we can actually lock in much lower rates for students. and that's the kind of solution that will take time, the time i believe that we could have spent and should spend by extending the 3.4% rate another year and looking creatively and thoughtfully about a whole spectrum of issues but with the goal of trying to give students and families the assurances that they can afford college and that also college will be affordable in the sense that the cost of college will start coming under some type of control. that takes a lot of work and we're not doing that work today. we are adopting a rate structure
permanently that because of where we are in the economy will invariablely mean -- invariably mean that students will pay more and more each year. so i mentioned before because of the great effort of some of my colleagues -- senator manchin, senator king, senator alexander, senator burr, senator durbin, and i could go on and on additio --there have been some improvements made from the initial version of this legislation, particularly caps on the loan rates. those caps are very high. urn the new proposal, the -- urn the new proposal, the cap for the -- under the new proposal, the cap for the subsidized loan are 8.25%. and then there are companies tho up to 10.5%. again, let's step back here. we're putting a cap at those levels because there's a reasonable expectation that we'll reach those levels and as a result, we're going from the current law, which is 6.8%, to
as high as in some cases for parent loans 10.5%. that's a huge swing not in favor of students but to the disadvantage. that's why i'm working on an amendment which i hope to offer that would put the cap at 6.8% for all stafford loans and 7.9% for the parent plus loan. again, if -- if we're looking at a fixed rate of 6.8% and we can't do better than that two, three, four, five years from now, we have to ask ourselves, do we really need to make these changes? or should we make these changes? now, if we adopt an amendment as i propose, at least we're telling parents they won't be worse off than current law and they'll be better off because of interest rates at the moment in thandthe next several years. and i hope we could do that. we are looking at federal student loan debt that is over
$1 trillion. this can only mathematically increase that debt. we should be investing in our students, giving them the benefit of relatively low-cost loans so they can go to school and get on with their lives and get our economy moving forward again. and this is also an issue that goes to one of the core issues that we face as a country, indeed, it's a core issue across the globe -- the growing inequality of income and, in a sense, opportunity in our country and in countries across the globe. now, here in the united states, the great engine for opportunity has always been education, and if we make it more expensive, then fewer people can take advantage of it. and if fewer people can take advantage of it, the inequality will grow because they won't have the chance for the good-paying jobs. and, oh, by the way, in a
competitive global economy, we could see our position slip because we don't have these talented people. so this is an issue that strikes not just at sort of the technical aspects of a -- of a program. , in my view, goes to the heart of what it is that gives opportunity to america. and i believe it's education. and i believe if we make it expensive, then less opportunity will be available. i believe if we make it expensive, we'll be less productive and less competitive. i believe that despite all the efforts of extraordinarily talented and dedicated colleagues, we can do better and we should do better. and, mr. president, as such, i would reluctantly oppose the underlying legislation. i at least hope we could cap it if the amendment i offer would be accepted. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor.
mr. inhofe: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: mr. president, i -- i think we're going to have a cloture vote coming up early afternoon and i just want to share a few -- a few thoughts on this. you know, the addition the -- t, miss mccarthy, is a fine person. in fact, i can remember -- i've been on the environment and public works committee since i came to the senate in 1994. in fact, when republicans were in the majority, i chaired that committee. and the -- then as the minority, i was the ranking minority member. so i was there when -- when lisa jackson was the administrator of the e.p.a. and someone i had a great deal of respect for. in fact, some of my republican friends criticized me. i was the only one who really liked her, because i always was
able to -- in spite of the fact that philosophically we disagreed with each other, she always answered honestly when it was uncomfortable for her to do it. i remember one time i asked her the question -- this was during a hearing that it was live on tv as our hearings were at that time. i said -- we were talking about the cap-and-trade bills that came up, and all these -- i don't know how many we have had, ten or so since -- in the last 12 years, and i said, you know, if we were to pass this cap-and-trade bill, which is going to cost between -- the range is always $300 billion and $400 billion -- that's with a b -- i said if we do that, is that going to -- if you really believe, which i don't, but if you really believed that co2 is something that is bad and is a pollutant and all that, would that reduce worldwide emissions of co2? and she said no, it wouldn't. and the reason is very obvious.
people hide from this. they are not honest like she is, because honestly if you just do this in the united states of america where we already have controls, we already have emission controls and a lot of things that are pollutants and you don't do it in china and india doesn't do it and mexico doesn't do it, then obviously it's not going to reduce co2. and in fact the reverse -- -- is true. it would have the effect, if you had limitations of co2 in this country, it would cause an increase in co2 worldwide because our manufacturing base and others that go -- would have to go where the energy is, and that's -- that would be to countries like china where they don't have any controls on anything. often, people say oh, they are waiting, they are going to follow our example. that's garbage. what the chinese want to do, they are waiting, anticipating, hoping, praying, that we will start having restrictions on our
emissions, and we -- because they know that our manufacturing base will end up going over there. so that's something that is -- and the other thing, i can remember this is another thing also. one of the problems i had with the united nations is that they are trying to become independent. it just kills them every time they have to say something -- they have to do something because we threaten to withhold our contributions to the -- to the united nations. and so they have been attempting for a long period of time to get themselves in a position where they are self-supporting. they don't have to be answerable to anyone or accountable to anyone, and consequently they have -- they are the ones who started this whole thing on global warming to start with, because if you follow through, going all the way from the kyoto convention 12 years ago up to -- through all these bills, all this legislation, they are the ones that if that becomes a reality that we'll have to turn
to, and all of a sudden they will have a source of income so they won't have to be depending upon the united states who pays 25% of their bills or any of the other countries. so i can remember one of the things the united nations does and has been doing for ten years or so -- i guess longer than that -- is they have the big party, the biggest party of the year and they found the most exotic places in america and they had these parties, and they invite all the countries, 192 countries to come to it, and these big conventions they have, the only price of entering is that they have to agree that they agree with global warming and they are going to start restricting their co2. well, obviously, they're not going to do it, but it's worth lying to be able to go to the party. so the biggest party -- one of the biggest ones was in copenhagen in 2009. at that time, lisa jackson was the administrator of the e.p.a.
knowing and quite frankly -- i don't want to be disrespectful, but all of those from the united states, and i'm talking about john kerry, the president, barbara boxer, nancy pelosi, and all of them had gone to this big event, and they had said yes, the united states of america is going to pass cap and trade. we're going to be right there with you. that just wasn't true, and they knew it wasn't true. so i decided to go there. in fact, went all the way there, stayed three hours, came all the way back as the one-man truth squad. and i can recall going over, and right before i left, we had a hearing, and lisa jackson was a witness of the hearing, and so i asked her the question. i said i understand -- it's my feeling that as i leave to go to copenhagen as a one-man truth squad in copenhagen to let them know that we're not going to pass anything over here, and i said i have a feeling that since you know we can't get this done legislatively that you're going to have an endangerment finding
here in the united states, and then use that as an excuse to pass with regulation what you couldn't do with legislation. and she kind of smiled. i could tell that was going to happen. i said now, when this happens, i leave town, you come out with an endangerment planning, it has to be based on science. what science will you use? she says the ipcc. that's the intergovernmental panel on climate change. well, the intergovernmental panel on climate change, that's the united nations. they were formed by the united nations, they were formed and stacked with scientists who are all preprogrammed to believe all this garbage that they had, and they did. and consequently, it couldn't have worked at a better time because when it wasn't days after that when she said we're going to be depending. here we are preparing to pass the largest tax increase in the history of america by doing it through regulations to save these cap and trade, only more
expensive, and it's going to have to be based on science, and that science is the ipcc. it wasn't hours after that that climategate came in, and all of a sudden the things that we had been saying for ten years on the floor, talking about the scientists that have been shut out of the process that the united nations had, we -- they were totally discredited, and they had cooked their science, cooked the numbers and climategate came in. it was so bad that the major newspaper in london characterized it as the greatest single scientific scandal in the history of the world. now, that's a big deal. well, anyway, that went on and they started working on doing this through regulation since they can't get it done through legislation. now, the reason i bring that up is because during that time frame while lisa jackson was the director of the e.p.a., gina mccarthy, the one who is
coming up for a cloture vote here in a couple of -- maybe an hour or so, she was the assistant director of the e.p.a. in charge of air issues. now, what went on during that time was these huge, punitive things in addition to -- just forget about the greenhouse gases or the -- the cap-and-trade that they are going to be coming up with, even though that's the largest of all of them, they passed utility mact. now, that means maximum achievable control technology. and so what it does, it says what technology is out there to restrict, to be able to reduce emissions from anything, what technology, and so what they have done in utility mact, they have put a restriction on the emissions that was impossible technologically to achieve, and the whole idea was to run coal
out of business. quite frankly, they were able to get it through. i remember that time -- there is a little provision that isn't very often successfully used but it is a thing that is called the c.r.a., congressional review act, that says if the unelected bureaucracy who is not accountable to anyone comes out with the regulations that are owe onerous, so bad, that they are not going to be able to -- that it's going to be very costly, and it's something that doesn't make any sense, then we in the united states senate and the house can do a c.r.a., congressional review act. it means you have to get 30 cosponsors, 30, and then you have to get a majority, 51 in the case of the senate, to pass it. i did a congressional review act on the utility act that would cost us $100 billion and 1.65 million jobs. these are numbers, by the way,
that are not denied by anyone, to my knowledge. so there we were in a position to -- to get this through, and i got my 30 cosponsors, and we came within two votes of getting it done. so the c.r.a. is something where it does inject the -- someone who has to reflect the will of the people because they're elected people, and we came very close to doing it. nonetheless, that's now a law. and there are millions of people out there now, in excess of a million people who have already lost their jobs because of that. boilermact, that's same thing, maximum achievable control technology. boiler, every manufacturer has a boiler. so this would do the same thing to manufacturers as utility mact did to coal. that involved $63.3 billion and 800,000 jobs lost. the next was cement mact. that was -- that would have been -- do you have the chart up? there they are on the chart.
the cement mact is one that would cost $3.5 billion and 80,000 jobs. that's already implemented. if ozone, the next, should come up, that would be even perhaps more serious than the top three, second only to greenhouse gases, and that would mean that 2,800 counties in the united states of america would be out of attainment. now, in my state of oklahoma, we have 77 counties. all 77 counties would be out of attainment. i can remember when i was mayor of tulsa, tulsa county, was out of attainment, and that meant we couldn't recruit jobs, we couldn't start new industries, we had to fire a lot of the people that were working there because we were out of attainment in ozone emissions. now, that has been delayed, it's been delayed until after the election. now the election is over, so now they can go ahead with some of these they hadn't done before. hydraulic fracturing. you know, i have talked about from this podium i don't know
how many times the president's war on fossil fuels. it's -- it's critical. i mean, here we are in a position in the united states of america where we can be totally independent of any country, the middle east or anybody else, if we only will use our own resources, and we don't do that. we're in a position right now where we have gone in the last four years, we have increased our production because of getting into the shale areas and the tight formations and using hydraulic fracturing to extract the oil and gas, we have increased our production by 40% in four years. but that's all on either state or on private land. on federal land because the obama administration won't let us drill on federal land, it has actually decreased by 7%. is that possible to increase all of our production by 40% except that part which is on federal
lands. and yes, in fact, that's exactly what has happened. i think that when they talked about hydraulic fracturing, you know, this is something that's been regulated by the states, and there's a reason for that, by the way. the reason is my state of oklahoma has different formations than alaska, for example, or now with the marcellus going through pennsylvania and new york. that's different, different depths. so the regulation has been very successful. the first hydraulic fracturing job was done in my state of oklahoma in 1949. there has never been a case of ground -- water contamination in over a million applications of it. again, it gets back to lisa jackson. i asked her that question, has there ever been a case of -- a confirmed case of groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing. she said no, there hasn't been. so that's the kind of honesty that i like in the answers that we get. and the only reason i bring that up is the president is trying to
use hydraulic fracturing -- he will stand up as he did in the joint session and said we have an abundance of good, clean, cheap natural gas, that's what we need to be turning to, but we have to do something about hydraulic fracture. we can't get to the natural gas that's necessary without using this technique called hydraulic fracturing, so they're trying to kill it that way. and i could go on and on, and it's on the chart behind me. the only reason i bring this up is because we do have a vote coming up on a very fine lady, gina mccarthy, but you have to keep in mind when all these regulations, these air regulations were conceived, they were done when she was the assistant secretary -- or assistant director of the e.p.a. for air. these are all air regulations. so she is certainly more than just partially responsible for that. she was the engineer of all these regulations that if you add them up -- where is that total tbig that we had? do you have that on the chart?
600 -- yeah. it was the n.a.m. did a study that no one has challenged. they say that we now just because of these air regulations already -- what we have done -- this is exclusive of cap and trade -- $630 billion that have been lost to our g.p.d., and then nine million jobs lost. that's how critical this is to our economy. that's how expensive it is. all these things translate into taxes. in the case of the $300 billion to $400 billion, in my state of oklahoma, i do a calculation every year, it would cost the average taxpayer in oklahoma $3,000 yet by their own admission that particular issue, this is called greenhouse gases, this is cap-and-trading, the co2 would not reduce co2 emission
at automatic. i say that she was the one -- in a very significant way was responsible for it. now, two votes are going to take place today and one is the cloture vote. there are a lot of people who are going to -- have been notified i'm sure by their manufacturers and their businesses back home saying we can't allow to increase the -- to continue to increase the costs of all these regulations. so we want you to oppose her. well, the first vote that we have is going to be a cloture vote. a cloture vote, it takes 60 to pass a cloture vote. the next vote when it's going to be -- if they should get -- should have cloture and that will be successful, would be the vote to -- to put her into office and that would be only 51 votes. so i'm afraid and i hate to say this about my fellow senators, but i know there are going to be some senators out there who say i'll tell what i do, i'll fool
the people back home, vote against her confirmation in that post but i'll go ahead and vote for cloture because they have to have my vote to reach 60. so the vote for cloture then turn around and make the people at home think they're against all these regulations and they would vote against her. wait and see. i'm predicting that's going to happen. we'll know in a couple hours but i think that is what is going to happen. the big vote, the second vote is not important. the only important vote is the cloture vote. the cloture vote would be the first one that comes -- is there a time set for that? 2:30 today is the cloture vote. you're going to see a lot of people are going to be voting for cloture and end up voting against her. that's what to -- there is to look for and i would only say this, this will be the last time i say this. if you really want to do something about the regulations, you feel she
is -- has demonstrated she is not going to be help envelope this respect, your vote is going to be the one vote and that is the cloture vote that takes place at 2:30 this afternoon. i thank the chair and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: mr. president, i want to take just a few moments --. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. coats: i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coats: mr. president, we're about to vote on the new director of the environmental protection agency, and it -- i would -- i have a real problem with that agency, and with the individual that has been nominated to direct that agency. i will cast my vote shortly on
that matter, but i want to take the opportunity here to talk about the e.p.a. and an agency that i think has exceeded its -- the authorities given to it by this body, that has overstepped its role and its bounds and has had enormous negative impact on my state and i think on our country. the overreach and the regulation after regulation that has come, rule after rule that has come out of that agency has in my opinion, while it may have achieved some benefit in some places, it has nowhere come close to exceeding the benefit as weighed against the cost. the competitive enterprise institute totals e.p.a. regulations at roughly $350
billion a year cost. making it the single most expensive rule making agency in government. this is particularly relevant to talk about this now because, as i said, the new administrator is before us, and i think it's important that we focus on what this impact has been the last four or five years or so, which is the e.p.a. rules and regulations have imposed upon our economy. whether it's the war on fossil fuels, whether it's the war on the production of energy, or any of a number of other issues that have been brought forward here through the rules and regulations, it is imposing a serious negative impact on our ability to be an energy-secure
and energy-efficient and low-cost nation. our country has taken great strides-term prove air quality over the years. to date, the utility industry has spent over $100 billion in capital investment for air pollution controls which have resulted in significant declines in he emissions -- in emissions. by singling out these providers and effectively prohibiting coal-fired electricity generation, the administration is is putting our economy, well-being, grid reliability and american jobs at risk. air quality and energy production don't have to be at war with each other. they don't need to be incompatible. we can and must achieve both, but we also must have some flexibility and transparency from this administration and its rule making agencies if we're going to accomplish that goal.
i applaud my colleague from louisiana, senator vitter, for his persistence in seeking responses from the e.p.a. so often this agency researches benefits and secondary benefits but does not reveal a detailed economic analysis of the true costs associated with their rules. senator vitter's work is getting a -- in getting a commitment from the agency to convene independent economic experts to examine the agency's economic modeling is something that i believe needs to be done. i think the administration should welcome this because we are trying to find that balance between putting people back to work, getting our economy moving again, and imposing, yes, necessary health and safety regulations, but not one at the cost of the other. as i said, these can be compatible. senator manchin and i on a bipartisan basis have sought not to deny -- to give the
electricity, coal-fired plants across our country and many of which are in our respective states, not to give them an excuse not to comply with the clean air laws but simply to extend the time in which they are mandated to bring new pollution control measures on board. some of these industries are halfway through the production process of doing this. they have made the commitment. all we asked for was a waiver, a temporary waiver, nothing to do with achieving the goal but a temporary waiver to give them a little more extra time to comply and finish what they were doing. some of these coal plants were in the middle of installing extremely expensive air pollution control measures, and yet the hard and fast rule imposed upon them by the e.p.a.
with no ability to give them a waiver for good-faith effort, demonstrated good-faith effort to comply, but because they couldn't get all the construction done and all the implementation made by a certain date, they now have to switch to another source of fuel or shut down, many of them had had to shut down at significant economic impact to my state. not just my state, many states, particularly those that have heavy manufacturing that need a lot of electricity to make their product. and so while i don't want to go into great detail in terms of which specific regulations and rules ought to be looked at and ought to be given some flexibility, i want to make the larger point that if we are sincere about dealing with issues and policies that will
allow us to achieve economic growth, will put more people back to work, we need to have responsible rules and regulations, not this onslaught of rules and regulations that continues to come out of e.p.a., some of it, it seems, driven by ideological measures rather than by effective cost/benefit analysis, and with the understanding that we're in a precarious economic time, that we have a lot of people out of work, and that a delay or an advancement of time in which to achieve certain regulations and a sincere evaluation of the basis of what is the real cost benefit of going forward with this, that ought to be imposed. mr. president, in the interest of time i would like to ask unanimous consent to have my full statement be made in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coats: and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. tester: thank you, mr. president. i rise today to speak about the need to invest in research to fight pancreatic cancer. mr. president, just 6% of the americans diagnosed with pancreatic cancer live more than five years. 6%. 65% of the folks with colon cancer survive that long. 90% live five years with breast cancer. and nearly every man diagnosed with prostate cancer is still living after half a decade. so why is pancreatic cancer a different story? it's because we don't have a reliable way to detect this deadly disease in its earliest stages. as a result, nearly 40,000 americans will die from pancreatic cancer in 2013. but despite being a leading cause of cancer, pancreatic cancer receives far less suppo support. and fewer research dollars than other forms of cancer. this must change. because support for cancer
research will save lives. supporting pancreatic cancer research will lead to breakthroughs in treatment, it will need to needed advances in early detection, and it will -- it will show the american people that we're serious about saving the lives of their closest family and friends. it will make it clear that we're standing with mary and her mother. lee lives in boozman, montana, while her mother, who suffers from pancreatic cancer, lives in seattle. lee works hard to support her mom during chemotherapy and radiation treatments. she also volunteers her time to support pancreatic cancer patients and raise awareness about the disease. but lee worries what's in store for her and her mom. she praise every day that -- she prays every day that her mom will be among the 6% of pank i can't tell i guess cancer patients who surplus projected -- pancreatic cancer patients who survive. then there's myra and ed potratz
from great falls, moo montana. they know what lee and her mom are going through. together they're fighting ed's cancer. ed recently had surgery but the tumor spread to his liver. he now faces painful chemotherapy treatments, something far too many cancer patients experience. supporting pancreatic cancer research will also honor the life of lenny duffy of dar bee, montana. lenny and his wife deborah were not born and raised in montana, they came from chicago so in retirement they could h enjoy flyfishing. he only got to enjoy the state for a year before the disease took his life. mr. president, congress took a big step forward last year to support folks like lee and ed and lenny. we passed the recalcitrant cancer research act. this bill, supported by a bipartisan majority, increased
research into pancreatic cancer. it gave national cancer institute the tools it needed to tackle this lethal disease. but the sequester is taking back our promise. the sequester cut funding to the national institutes of health which does most of our country's research into this form of cancer by 5%. that 5% cut eliminated $250 million worth of funding for cancer research. talk about sending mixed messages. mr. president, one moment we're telling lee and her mom that we're fighting cancer for them, the next moment we're telling them is that they're on their own. just last we're, the senate appropriations committee restored funding that was cut by sequestration so the n.i.h. could beat pancreatic cancer. this was my first year as a member of the subcommittee that funds n.i.h. it has been an honor to work with chairman harkin to ensure that n.i.h. and medical research all over the country is well
funded by this bill. with this measure, which i wholeheartedly support, has a long way to go before it gets into law. mr. president, we need to rein in our spending. we do need to get our budget in order. but we cannot hurt our neighbors in the process. we owe that to the people like lee and ed and deborah. for their sake, we need to find a responsible solution for our budget problems. folks around the country are skeptical right now of congress' ability to make smart, responsible decisions. it seems to be a thing of the past. in cutting funding to fight deadly diseases like pancreatic cancer only adds to their frustration. that's because they know it will slow down the progress that we've made toward detecting pancreatic cancer early on and saving lives. mr. president, this disease touches me and my office personal. two of my -- two members of my office have lost relatives to pancreatic cancer.
chances are i'm not alone in this regard. chances are each of my senate colleagues knows a lee or an ed or a deborah. in support of those we know, those we've met, and those we love, i urge my colleagues to support increased research into pancreatic cancer, to support the appropriations committee recent n.i.h. budget plan, and to stand for smart and responsible measures to balance our budget. mr. president, today i also want to talk about our need to protect our civil liberties and our constitutional rights. when i joined the senate in 2007, i was a bit of an outlier. i'm not referring to my status as a working farmer or my hair cut. i'm referring to my position to my opposition of the patriot act. montanans elected me to the senate after i made it clear that i didn't want to fix the patriot act, i wanted to repeal it. and i still do.
but recent events are refocusing many in the senate on my concerns with the patriot act and some parts of the foreign intelligence surveillance act or fisa. a recent national survey reveals americans are shifting in favor of reining in government surveillance programs. in fact, since 2010, nearly twice as many americans say government spying is going too far and restricting our civil liberties. folks like me are now mainstre mainstream. support for repeal or at least changes to the patriot act is up among both democrats and republicans. as a result, more members of congress are expressing their concerns about the extent of the government's spying programs. and the nation's finally talking about how to fundamentally balance our civil liberties with our national security. of course, the recent n.s.a. scandal is at the heart of washington's newfound interest in standing up for our civil liberties, and lawmakers should be outraged. because the secret collection of our phone and internet records is a perfect example for what
happens when government ignores our constitutional rights. mr. president, we didn't need edward snowden to tell us that the federal government is sir venting our constitutional rights -- circumventing our constitutional rights. whatever one things of ed ward noticeden -- and i think what he did was wrong and really hurt our country -- the reality is that he wasn't blowing the whistle on illegal activities. he disclosed information about programs that were legal. and that's a problem. the n.s.a. is using bad laws to undertake massive data collection on american citizens. just over two years ago here on the senate floor, i said the patriot act is compromising the very liberties and rights that make our nation great and respected around the world. at that time, i said the patriot act gives our government full authority to dig through our private records and tap our phones without even having to get a judge's warrant. it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. mr. president, it's in the law.
and now it's time that we have a full, open debate about the patriot act and the fisa amendments. mr. president, the patriot act is an invasion of privacy. the fisa amendments act is no better. both are an affront to our freedoms and, to me, they raise constitutional questions. i'm not a lawyer so i don't know if they're unconstitutional, but i can tell you that they do not represent the values and the privacy rights of law-abiding citizens. and that's why i voted to repeal it, and that's why i voted against extending the fisa act back in december. but we can't go back in time, mr. president. we can only move forward and to take action now to better balance our civil liberties with our national security. to get our intelligence policy back on track in a way that is true to our values. so here's what we need to do. first, we've got to fix our la laws. we need to do more than just put government spying programs under the microscope. we need to rein them in.
that's why i'm supporting a bill that makes it harder for the government to obtain phone records and force federal officials to prove that sought-after records can be linked to foreign terrorists or groups. the chairman of the senate judiciary committee wrote this bill, mr. president. i certainly wouldn't call the senator from vermont an outlier. and we must have increased transparency and accountability about how these programs are being implemented and why they're being run the way they are. that is why i joined with one-quarter of the senate to call on the director of national intelligence to justify the collection of america's phone and personal information. it's been three weeks. we have yet to get a response. we need answers and they need to be truthful. and that is why a bipartisan group of senators i has once agn introduced legislation to declassify important foreign intelligence surveillance court opinions. americans deserve to know what legal arguments the government
is using to spy on them and this bill will do just that. and, madam president, we need a functioning privacy and civil liberties oversight board. the privacy and civil liberties board is charged with making sure national security measures do not violate the rights of law-abiding americans. for years, seats on the panel sat empty, but soon after i called on the panel to investigate the n.s.a., board members found themselves at the white house, meeting with the president. that's a very good thing. they need to continue to have the access and the ear of the president to do their job effectively on behalf of the american people. it's a new day, madam president. times are changing. the american people are taking a hard look at what federal officials are doing in the name of national security and what it means for them and their families. the question is whether this body will live up to the american people's new
expectations. after the attacks of september 11, congress approved the patriot act and our nation went to war. we stamped out al qaeda cells and we put terror on its heels around the world. then and now our military and our intelligence community performed bravely. they are better trained, stronger, smarter and more effective than any other force on the planet. i want to thank them for their service. from top to bottom, i want to thank each and every one of them for doing their difficult jobs each and every day. but congress did not give our intelligence community a blank check to walk all over the constitutional rights of law-abiding americans and montanans. i am confident american citizens can be kept safe without snooping around in our private lives. madam president, americans and montanans are concerned about the government right now. they have seen the recent news about government missteps, overreach and scandals and wonder where washington's priorities lie. they wonder whether anyone is looking down the road to see where this country is going. every measure that i have outlined here today will help
restore the balance between national security and privacy, and every one of them has strong bipartisan support. i will keep working with democrats, republicans, independents and anyone else to defend our civil liberties and for the ideals of our founding fathers. freedom, privacy and a government controlled by the people, these are the principles our forefathers founded this nation upon and they are the principles that led montanans to send me to washington and represent them. our constitutional rights are what makes us the greatest country in the world, and we cannot let them be taken away one new law at a time. thank you very much, madam president. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. a senator: i ask to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blunt: madam president, i rise today to talk about a hold i have on the nominee that we will be voting on here to move forward, on gina mccarthy, the
president's nominee to lead the environmental protection agency. there are lots of things to be concerned about about the environmental protection agency, there is no doubt about that. the 12 states that just sued the e.p.a. over the agency's sue and settle tactics, the rules and regulations that i think if they are allowed to go forward will raise energy prices. there are lots of things to debate and we will continue to debate those. this is about a more targeted area. i have only been in the senate a couple of years. what's a hold? you know, a hold is -- you put a hold on a nomination, on a problem that really needs to be solved or on a problem that just can't be solved. some objection to the nominee, some objection to something that has happened that should permanently disqualify that particular individual from any job, that can be one kind of hold. this is a hold on a problem that could be solved.
this is one of the things that individual senators still have the ability to do, to not stop a nominee but at least to make it more difficult for that nominee to be confirmed, and it's one of the things you can do to say let's do what we can to solve this problem. it has to be defensible. it has to be something in my view you're willing to talk about. we did away with the so-called secret holds in the senate in recent years, so you know who has the hold. if you want to know, i suppose you could almost always find out why they have it. in my case, i just like the administration to do something that they promised to do in february. that's to reach a set of -- agreement on a set of facts that relate to a long-standing project in my state in missouri. it's -- let me be clear. i'm not asking anybody to spend any money, i'm not asking anybody to approve a project.
this is about a draft statement that's out there that the government keeps arguing with itself about. there is an old saying you're entitled to your own opinion, but you're not entitled to your own facts, and i don't care what opinion any of these agencies have. that is actually outside of this discussion. what i care about is agreeing on the facts. there is a project in the boot heel of missouri, it's actually one of the projects that anybody with a map of the united states can get pretty close to where it is because the boot heel in southeast missouri is pretty easy to find on any map that identifies the states so you can get really close to where this project is. the st. johns bayou floodway project has frankly been mired in bureaucratic infighting and unresolved government disputes for at least 30 years. in fact, 1954 was when the government said they were going to take care of this levee problem.
1954. they said it again in 1986 as if every 32 years we just need to renew our commitment to do this job. congress has authorized this project. it would add 1,500 feet of levee. it would close a gap in the levee system around the river, 1,500 feet. that's not a long space. you could measure it by football fields or however else you wanted to, but 1,500 feet is what we're talking about. we're talking about what we -- how that would work. after years of back and forth over the first environmental impact statement, the army corps of engineers produced a second draft of this statement in july of 2011. now, what do i mean by agreeing to the facts? one of the facts in dispute in any levee flood is always wetlands, so in this case the u.s. department of agriculture said there were 500 acres of
wetlands. the environmental protection agency said no, there are 118,000 acres of wetlands. now, this is a pretty big floodway, obviously, if 117,500 acres of it could be in dispute as to whether it was wetlands or not, and that's a pretty big discrepancies, and these are two government agencies. madam president, there is only one definition of what a wetland is, so it's either -- is it 500 acres or is it 118,000 acres? and i think fish and wildlife had some number somewhere in the middle, but that's no way to solve disputes. the facts are the facts. what meets the definition here, and this draft environmental impact statement -- and this would be a draft that if it became public, people could comment on. it's not even a final statement. it's a draft statement is what i have been asking for. it's been out there for two years now. in march of 2012, i sent two
letters to try to address this problem, one to the fish and wildlife service and one to the e.p.a. in june of 2012, the army corps withdrew the revised statement due to ongoing concerns with these other two agencies, and so okay, june of 2012, they withdraw it. september, 2012, congresswoman emerson and i from that congressional district in missouri sent a letter expressing our disappointment that all this foot dragging is going on. that same time in october of that year, we visited the project to try and figure out what the problem could be for all the farm families and others who are impacted by that and others who want to be sure they have the right kind of flood protection. in december of 2012, my missouri colleague senator mccaskill wrote the heads of the e.p.a. and fish and wildlife demanding that they reach a resolution in 30 days and that they present
this new environmental impact statement in 60 days. so you have got a republican senator and a democrat senator both asking the government to quit arguing with itself and come up with an agreement on the facts. this is about the facts, not about opinions. so in july of 2013, the army corps withdrew its revised draft statement once again, and the e.p.a. said we're going to take this all the way to the white house for review, and so in february of this -- of that year, february of this year, 2013, senator mccaskill and i had a meeting in her office with representatives of these agencies, and during that meeting in february, all the agencies agreed to reach an agreement surrounding the facts by march 15. now, they came up with this deadline. senator mccaskill didn't ask them when can you do this, i didn't say how quickly can you do this. they said we will get this done by march 15.
unfortunately, on march 15, they call and say well, you know, we just couldn't quite get it done by march 15, and so i said okay, the one person that can have some impact here is this nominee for e.p.a., so the next week, march 18, i placed a hold on her nomination. i frankly thought this would be a couple of weeks, because after all they had thought a month earlier they could do this in two weeks. now i'm saying okay, let's get this done. you can't just promise members of the senate you're going to do something and then decide you're going to ignore it. and so nothing has happened yet. the march 15 deadline has come and gone. may, 2013, i went to the project site again, i met with gina mccarthy that month to express my concerns over this bureaucratic infighting. i contacted the white house to attempt to get this situation
revolved for southeast missourians and people actually in neighboring states that benefit from how this floodway works as well, and unfortunately we're still waiting. ten days ago, the e.p.a., the corps and fish and wildlife sent a letter on the status. they said that there was some common understanding. i wrote a letter right back and said what does that mean? does that mean you have understood you don't agree with each other or there is -- what does that mean? can we get these facts determined and so far i have heard nothing, and so the -- i want to note the natural resource conservation service agree with the new definitions did, the e.p.a. has come up with a new definition of farmable wetlands. nobody has ever heard of this before, that i know of. it's not defined anywhere in law, just at the e.p.a. finally, has there been an agreement with the corps, the e.p.a., fish and wildlife on
whether or not proposed mitigation actions are all both valid and adequate. of the 471 comments that came out, 115 of them concern mitigation, and most of them came from e.p.a., and this is internal comments. we haven't even gotten to a point yet where we can say a citizen -- a citizen can say i like this project, i don't like it, here is what's wrong with it. so i sent a response to the administration on july 9 and said here are more questions. let me just say, madam president, that most of theater -- the most pressing question here really is are we -- why can't we manage the government? the administration on this, you say well, the government is big and complicated, and you can't expect the president to run everything in the administration. actually, i do expect the president to do that. the constitution expects the president to do and again, as i conclude, let me just say, i will vote not to go
forward with her nomination. i may not prevail, but this is a reasonable thing to ask. i'm not asking the federal government to spend a dime or to approve construction. i'm just asking them to agree to the facts. you wouldn't think that would be hard to do but in this case it's been pretty hard to do. the government needs to stop arguing with the government. i'm going to keep fighting for the people i work for to have a right to know what are the facts and what should we be considering as we decide whether we should move forward with this project that the federal government said in 1954 and again in 1986, here's something we're going to do and here's the authorization to do it. let's find out if it really works or not by just putting the facts on record. and with that, i'd be glad to yield or determine whether there's a quorum present.
mrs. boxer: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: madam president, this is a very important day for the american people. we're beginning to give president obama the team he wants to work with, and i'm not suggesting everyone here likes his choices, but he won the presidency, and every president, whether i agree with him or disagree with him or i agree with her or disagree with her, whether it's a republican or democrat, every president deserves a team in place. now, if i were to ask people how important is clean air to you, how important is it that when your children breathe the air, they don't wind up with
asthma, i will tell you 80% of them will say very important. and if i were to ask them how important is clean water, the quality of our lakes and streams and oceans, i would say they would think it over, pretty important. that's where we get our fish, that's where we go to recreate, and that's a legacy we want preserved. and if i were to say how about safe drinking water, do you think you ought to be nervous when your child or you drink your water out of the tap? and sadly, fewer and fewer people are drinking water out of the tap. i would suggest to you knowing what the american people know and seeing how smart they are about what bacteria could be in the water, i would say they would think it very important. at least 80%. if i asked them how important is
it to you that superfund sites that had dangerous toxins on them be cleaned up, how important is that to you? how important is it to you that superfunds sites that are dangerous to the health of our children, dangerous to the health of our families, brownfield sites that are dangerous to our families, how important is it to you that those responsible for making that mess clean up their mess so that those sites can be restored and they can be, in fact, built upon again? and i would say to you vast majorities would say it's very important. if you ever go, madam president, to visit a school and you talk to the kids and you ask them to raise their hands if they have asthma or someone they know has asthma, i guarantee you, too many kids will raise their hands. and we know that asthma is the
greatest cause of school absences. so why am i starting off discussing the e.p.a. by raising these issues of clean air, clean water, safe drinking water, superfund sites, brownfield sites? because the administrator of the e.p.a. will be carrying out the laws that make sure that our air is safe, our water is safe, our drinking water is safe, and that the superfund sites are clean -- be cleaned up. that's what the administrator of the e.p.a. does. and for the longest time we've had a holdup of gina mccarthy, who was nominated by our president. not because people don't respect her, not because people don't like her. the woman served five republican governors, one democratic
president. she got a unanimous vote in her current position as deputy administrator. they did it because, frankly, i don't think they like the clean air act, i don't think they like the safe drinking water act, i don't think they like the clean air act, i don't think they like the superfund act. so instead of going at it head on because they know they don't have a chance to repeal those laws, the american people revere those laws, they go around about -- oh, i didn't get the papers i wanted. y get the -- i didn't get the questions i wanted. how about a thousand questions were submitted to gina mccarthy, and she answered every one. so all of this holdup, stopping this woman from getting the promotion she deserves isn't about her. it isn't about her.
it's about the fact that they don't like the environmental protection agency, even though it was created by a republican president named richard nixon and supported by every president , democratic and republican. and then, of course, there's the issue of climate change. there is that issue of too much carbon pollution in the air which is -- we're seeing the results of it almost every day. and the administrator of the e.p.a. will be carrying out the president's vision for how to get that carbon pollution out of the air. and she'll be good at it. when 98% of scientists tell us that climate change is real, it's real. now, i guess 2% of the scientists are still saying that
tobacco doesn't cause cancer. well, bless their heart, that's their right, but i'm not following them, nor are the american people following the 2% of scientists who say tobacco isn't linked to lung cancer, and thank god we're seeing more and more americans walk away from smoking. but i got to tell you, we had for years doctors paid by the tobacco industry, scientists paid by the tobacco industry, oh, under oath, we don't see the connection. and the tobacco officials themselves actually said that, and we'll never forget that sight. one after one, oh, we swear to tell the truth. there's no connection. today we had a hearing in the environment committee. it was a terrific hearing about the science of climate change and the republicans put two witnesses up there. they were not scientists, they were economists, and they said
that doing anything about climate is terrible for the economy. i got to tell you, i looked at the organizations they represented, funded by the koch brothers, by exxonmobil. that's a fact. so this isn't about gina mccarthy, this whole holdup where we had an agency with an acting head, very good guy, but we need someone in this position who is going to have the graph aas the of this -- gravitas of to head this agency. if you look at the lives that have been saved because of the clean air act and if you look at the economic prosperity that came about because of the clean air act, i would shake you up. over 200% increase in the g.d.p.
as the clean air act was being carried out. jobs and jobs and jobs created after the special interests told us it would be calamitous. you know what we found out, madam president, and we'll find it out as president clinton just said yesterday at a ceremony i was proud to be at. when you clean up the environment and you do it in a good way, a wise way, a way gina mccarthy will lead us toward, you create hundreds of thousands of good jobs. you bring alternative clean energies to the table that will wind up saving money for the people. you know, i drive an electric hybrid car. and i hardly ever go to the gas station. and it costs a little bit more in the beginning but after a few years, i'll have paid for it and after that, our family is saving money. i was able to put a solar
rooftop on my home. granted, it's in california where the sun shines a lot. the fact is, in a few years i will -- i will be reaping the benefits of that because i do not pay for electricity. and so we can reap the benefits of this. instead of telling the people that it's going to hurt them, the truth is, it's going to help them. i'll never forget in eastern iewmp -- europe when i the wall came down and i visited the wall in germany, when that wall came down, the first thing eastern european countries did was clean up the air. you could not see. the truth is, if you can't breathe, you can't work. period. you go to china, you could barely see, and they're going to undertake a huge cleanup of their environment. so this battle about gina
mccarthy is not about gina mccarthy. it's about the fact that a lot of our colleagues simply feel we'd be better off without an e.p.a. and i have to tell you if you look back at the lives saved because of the e.p.a., if you look at the jobs created because of the e.p.a., they would think, my colleagues, i believe if they really looked at it without a prejudice, they'd agree with the american people, who support the environmental protection agency in numbers that are 70%, 80%. so to say that i'm relieved that we're having this vote is an understatement. i am so happy to see this moment come where we will put in place an administrator for the e.p.a. who will do us all proud, who will fair to all sides and will move our nation forward in both cleaning up the environment and creating good jobs in the
the clerk: we the undersigned senators in accordance with provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of gina mccarthy of massachusetts to be administrator of the environmental protection agency signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of gina mccarthy of massachusetts to be administrator of the environmental protection agency shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
if not, on this vote, the yeas are69, the nays are 3s three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative, the motion is agreed to. pursuant to s. res. 15 of the 113th congress, there will now be eight hours of debate equally divided in the usual form prior to the vote on the mccarthy nomination. who yields time?
the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. the senator from louisiana. mr. vitter: thank you, madam president. madam president, i rise to talk about the substance of the gina mccarthy nomination. it is a very important nomination. it is a very important agency that's been taking dramatic action in the last four years, and gina mccarthy is not some outsider coming to this new; she has been at the center of that very, very dramatic and, in my opinion, draconian action. in a methodical march against affordable, reliable energy, the e.p.a. has crafted and will continue to put forward multiple rules to stop the use of coal as part of our energy mix, to increase prices at the pump, to create energy scarcity at a time when energy independence is within our reach. and, madam president, this is a crucial debate because while the president says he's for all of the above, while he says he
wants to pursue that strategy, the particular policies of the e.p.a. have done the opposite. it has not been all of the above. it has been a war on coal. it's not been energy security. it's been increasing prices at the pump. it's not been energy independence. it's been trying to muffle the progress we can make to produce good, reliable, affordable energy right here in our country. and the e.p.a. will play a pivotal role in the execution and implementation of the president's recently announced climate action plain. with this edict from the president, e.p.a. is further emboldened and will strengthen its grip on the nation's economy. now, e.p.a.'s significant rule making agenda is not only estimated to cost billions of dollars, but it suffers from inherently flawed foundations. and in the recent past has
resuscitated the consideration of multiple rules after they were promulgated. for instance, reconsideration and revisions to the mercury and air toxic rule, the boil ermc rule, the oil and gas rule and the portland cement rule. so there alone you see the deep flaws in what they have been doing because they've had to back up and clean up the mess. e.p.a. needs to show the public the truth and the ultimate consequences of its action. the extent of the economic harm of the rules put forward during the last four years and those they're talking about for the next four years, not just through floor requests, not just through congressional inquiries, not just through more accessibility to information, which we've won, but being honest with the american people about their policies. let me talk about just a few areas where this is particularly
important. first, greenhouse gas regulation. the regulation of greenhouse gases alone is expected to cost more than $300 billion to $400 billion a year and will raise energy costs across the board. e.p.a. will continue to issue regulations industry by industry until virtually all aspects of the american economy are constrained by regulatory requirements and high energy prices. when the e.p.a. i.g. investigated the basis upon which e.p.a. moved forward with greenhouse gas regulation, the endangerment finding, the i.g. found that e.p.a. did not follow its own peer-review procedures to ensure the science behind the decision was sound. this is a very, very important point, and we need more consideration and different action from e.p.a. directly related to that, the
so-called social cost of carbon. in order to justify this regulatory regime i'm talking about forwarded by the administration, including unilateral action to be undertaken as part of the climate action plan, for the second time in just a few years an interagency working group crafted behind closed doors, a monetized estimate of the damage caused by emitting an additional ton of co2 in a year. these estimates are what is referred to as that social cost of imponing. -- of carbon. now, the problem is, the e.p.a. completely jiggered the methodology behind that to attain a certain result. in fact, o.m.b. has guidance about how you go about this. they have specific guidance about what discount rates to use. and the i.w.g. failed to use their normal recommended
discount rate, for a very simple reason: it wouldn't get them to the end goal, the objective they needed to get to. more evidence of the serious problems we have with e.p.a. another important category -- the ozone national ambien air quality standards. beyond the regulation of greenhouse gases, e.p.a. will propose revisions to the ozone national ambien air quality standards, which, if set between 60 and 70p.p.b., would cost potentially hundreds of billions of dollars annually. e.p.a. itself estimates now that this would cost-of-living -- thd cost between $18 billion and $19 billion a year annually and would likely find 85% of u.s. counties not attainable.
e.p.a. needs to talk honestly with the american people where it's pushing us. overreach in general -- you know, this agency overreach has been historic. for instance, an attempt to smear the idea of hydraulic fracturing, e.p.a. has carried outeout a campaign against that process in an attempt to justify unnecessary federal regulations that would usurp the successful and traditional regulation of that process. e.p.a. in three separate instances -- pavilion, wyoming, beau month, pennsylvania, and parker county, texas -- came out with outlandish and unsubstantiated claims of contamination and ridiculous claims of like houses exploding due to hydraulic fracture. e.p.a. has been forced to walk away from their baseless claims and withdraw from their
investigatory witch-hunts. so there again, yet another example of improper action and complete overreach. and mismanagement of existing programs like the renewable fuel standard. you know, while that fuel standard in my opinion is inherently flawed and may be in need of outright repeal, e.p.a. is in charge of its current implementation. and i.t. not taking action -- and it's not taking action while a crisis mounts under that current implementation. so as renewable fuel mandates increase each year while demand for transportation fuels decrease, refiners are forced to blend more biofuels into a gasoline and diesel pool that's shrinking, and so we're hit ago blend wall. it is a mounting crisis. it's right before us. e.p.a. is managing -- or i should say, mismanaging this
existing program. e.p.a. has existing powers to do something about it, so we don't get the blend wall, so we don't cause unhess spikes in prices -- unnecessary spikes in prices at the pump, and it's not acting. those are just the highlights, madam president. or i should say, the lo lowligh. these are some of the areas where this obama e.p.a. has acted to the detriment of the american people, jobs, the economy, our future. it's for these reasons, madam president, that i continue to have profound, profound concerns with this direction at e.p.a. as i said, madam president, the present nominee is not an outsider. she is not new to this. she does not have no element of involvement. she's been at the very heart of many of these matters, as head
of the clean air program. for those reasons, madam president, i not only express my strong, strong reservations; i will vote against the nomination of gina mccarthy. i urge my colleagues to really look long and hard at the record of this e.p.a. it's been a job killer. it has slowed economic recovery, and it threatens to do even more damage. and i urge a "no" vote. thank you, madam president. i yield back the floor. madam president, if no one else is scheduled to speak, i yield back all time.
apparently, i do not yield back all time, madam president. i thought i was the only speaker, but apparently there are others, so i yield back my time and ivite others who would like to -- and invite others who would like to speak to come to the floor immediately. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quoruquorum call:
mrs. boxer: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer boxer: madam presided like to yield back our time. i understand the republican side has yielded all time. and i'd like to see us get to a vote. the presiding officer: without objection, all time is yielded back. the question is on the mccarthy nomination. mrs. boxer: i would ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
mr. bennet: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. excuse me. will senators suspend. mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: mr. leader. mr. reid: i -- i'm 95% certain there will be no more votes today. the question i'm not as certain about is what happens on monday.
we'll know before the day is out whether we'll have to have a monday vote or votes. so we'll keep that in mind the. everyone should keep that in mind. i ask unanimous consent the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table, there be no intervening action or debate and no further motions be in order and the senate -- and president obama be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate resume legislative session. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. bennet: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. bennet: thank you, madam president. i'd ask to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. bennet: thank you, madam president. on saturday, july 20, colorado will commemorate a solemn anniversary because a year ago almost exactly to the day in aurora, colorado, a theater full of people who at that moment wanted nothing more than to escape the heat and enjoy a
movie with their family and with friends found themselves in the middle of a senseless and violent tragedy. a gunman opened fire and took 12 lives a year ago. nonpartisan -- nonpartisan innocent people loved by family and friends. he physically wounded scores of others. days later as this photo shows, thousands of coloradoans attended a vigil hosted by the city of aurora. we shared tears and prayers and resolved to support each other and to heal and to always remember those who lost their lives, which is what brings me here today, madam president. since that time we've continued to see an outpouring of support all across colorado. and for that matter, all across the united states of america for those who lost their loved ones and for the city of aurora. the grace and courage of the families and survivors affected by this terrible tragedy serve as a powerful reminder to all of
us of the resilience of the human spirit. madam president, today we remember the victims, victims like jessica, an aspiring young journalist. rebecca, a mother of two who joined the air force after high school. and veronica moser sullivan, age six, who had just learned to swim and loved to play dress-up. we also remember the acts of heroism and the resolution demonstrated by so many coloradoans in the aftermath of this tragedy. people like matt mcquinn who threw himself in front of his girlfriend on the night of the shooting, saving her life. and the brave first responders and volunteers who helped save lives and comfort those in shock and after-shock. and we remember the city of
aurora and the state of colorado, which has once again come together to help one another through unspeakable loss and heartache. at a recent service of over 3,000 people at potters house, an aurora-based church, reverend chris hill told those in attendance that we believe morning is coming to aurora. aurora means dawn. i think that captures the spirit of resilience and toughness that characterize aurora, my beautiful state of colorado, and these united states of america. and before i leave the floor, madam president, i wanted to read once again the names of the victims in aurora: john blunk, a.j. boye, jesse childress, jessica gowy, john larimer, matt
the presiding officer: without objection. the senator is reminded that we are in a quorum call. mr. manchin: i ask to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. manchin: mr. president, in the weeks and months ahead, maybe even for years to come, we're going to be debating president obama's latest global climate proposal. it's crucial that this debate be based on crystal clear facts and not clouded by political ideologies on either side. so starting today, i plan to deliver a series of speeches on energy, and i plan to start with coal, which i know is no surprise to you, which is america's greatest energy resource. i think it's important for me to lay out the facts about coal for several reasons. number one, coal is america's most abundant, most reliable and most affordable source of energy, and it will be for decades to come. number two, the coal industry and its supporters have been falsely portrayed by opponents as monsters that have done something wrong, that they value money over health and the environment. and number thee, i think that the american public has some
basic misconceptions about coal and just how important it is to keeping our economy growing and our nation secure. i think that because i was recently asked if coal is so controversial, then why do we as a nation just use more electricity? it shows basically people don't understand where the electricity comes from. when you turn the lights on. over 40% of the people depend on it. most of this industry and this country has been built on the backs of coal and what coal has produced. i didn't know how to respond to that when that person said that. i -- it was one of those rare moments that i was at a loss for words. just imagine you're standing there. why would you continue to keep mining coal? why don't you just use more electricity? i guess what i should have said was this -- when you surf the internet, you watch tv, you play a video game, you charge a cell phone, you turn on your air
conditioner or plug in your hybrid car to charge it, you're using electricity. follow me, and there is a good chance that electricity came from coal. coal has a distinguished past. in fact, you can't tell the history of america without telling the history of coal. it fueled the industrialization of america in the 19th and early 20th centuries, making us what we remain today -- the richest and most powerful nation in history. coal also has a distinguished present. it is responsible for 37.4% of all the electricity generated in the united states today, more than any other source of energy. just as importantly, coal has a distinguished future ahead of it. the u.s. department of energy says it will remain the dominant fuel for electricity generation in our country at least through 2040. despite so many attempts to kill it, coal is critical to meeting the future energy needs of america. in other words, we can't make it without coal. coal has the longest and perhaps
the most varied history of all fuels. it has been used for heating since the caveman. it has once -- it was once prized as the best stone in britain by roman invaders who actually carved jewelry out of it. native americans used it long before the new world settlers to bake their pottery. and blacksmiths have used coal to forge tools and all kinds of metal objects, at least since the middle ages. in fact, a deep, rich vein of coal runs through all of human history. not just american history. given all of the blame it gets for carbon pollution today, it's worth remembering that coal was universally regarded as a carbon treasure. it is difficult to exaggerate the importance of coal to both the american and british economies in the 19th and 20th centuries. coal was the fuel that fired the
industrial revolution. in the popular imagination, the industrial revolution is cotton mills, railways, steamboats, engines and factories, but at the core of the industrial revolution was the use -- was our use of energy and the energy that powered the mills, the railroads, the steam engines and the factories was coal. in fact, when james watt invented the steam engine, he used coal to make the steam to run his engine, making it possible for machinery to do work previously done by humans and animals, but perhaps the most important role coal played in the industrial revolution was in the making of steel, the predominant building material of the time. and in 1861, when the country was torn by civil war, factories used coal to produce steel for the guns, the bullets, the cannons that preserved this union.
by 1875, coke, which is made from coal, replaced charcoal as the primary fuel for iron blast furnaces to make steel. with the rise of iron and steel, coal production increased by 300% during the 187 0's and early 1880's. by the early 1900's, coal was supplying more than 100,000 coke ovens, mostly in western pennsylvania and northwestern west virginia. in the 1880's, coal was first used to generate electricity for factories and homes. and long after homes were being lighted by electricity produced by coal, many of them continued to have furnaces for heating and stoves for cooking that were fueled by coal. i can remember as a young person in my grandparents' home, i would always stoke the fire at night and bank up the coals so it would be warm all night long. of course, political, economic and intellectual conditions also contributed to the
industrialization of america. representative government, capitalism and the free expression of new ideas all played their part. but at the heart of this sweeping industrial revolution, a profound transition from hand production to machines was because of coal. the first coal miners in the american colonies were likely farmers who dug coal from beds exposed on the surface and sold it by the bushel, by the bushel. in 1748, the first commercial coal production began for mines mines -- from mines around richmond, virginia. by the late 1700's, coal was being mined on what was known as coal hill. now it's known as mount washington in pittsburgh, pennsylvania. the early settlers there used the coal to heat their homes, but they also carried it in canoes across the manongahela
river to provide canoes for the military gair ison at fort pitt. coal was first discovered in 1742 in what is now boone county. i have to wonder how hard it was to discover coal in west virginia because coal occurs in 53 of west virginia's 55 counties. as early as 1810, residents of wheely, once a part of -- wheeley, once a part of virginia and now a treasured part of west virginia, used coal from nearby mines to heat their homes. by 1817, coal began to replace charcoal as a fuel for the numerous salt furnaces of the canal river. but it wasn't until the mid 1800's that there was extensive mining in west virginia. the coalfields in southern west virginia opened up in the 197 1990's -- 1870's, and many of them owed their success to the coming of the chesapeake and ohio railway. of course, you can't talk about coal without talking about coal miners. the bravest and most patriotic
men and women that i have ever met in my life. a lot of americans only know the tv and movie stereotypes of coal miners, so they don't always give miners the respect that they deserve. the fact is they deserve the same respect as our military veterans. because they go down into the mines for the same reasons that our veterans took up arms -- to protect this country. it's not just a job. it's a calling. it's a way of life. even an act of patriotism in the defense of this great country. and to tell you the truth, most of the coal miners i meet in west virginia are also military veterans. coal miners are vital to the security of this nation. that was never so clear than in world war ii when franklin roosevelt nationalized america's coal mines. it was that important to us. in a fireside chat in 1943 explaining his actions, franklin delano roosevelt said this, and i quote -- "a stopping of the
coal supply, even for a short time, would involve a gamble with the lives of american soldiers and sailors and the future security of our whole people." that was the president of the united states in 1943. a stopping of the coal supply is still a gamble with the future security of our country. my own family first came to america to work in the mines back at the turn of the 20th century. growing up in a small coal mining town of farmington, i saw just how proud and courageous all these miners were. and in 1968, after the horrific farmington number nine mine disaster that claimed 78 victims, including my uncle, i experienced the healing strength of coal mining families. working conditions and living conditions were difficult for miners in the early days, but they did their best to make a living and provide for their families. they fought and struggled for everything. first alone, then as a union member led by the legendary john
l. lewis. john l. lewis, the line of labor. lewis pleaded the case of the miners in what was once described as the thundering voice of the captain of a mighty host, demanding the rights to which free men are entitled. if you ever have any doubt about the courage of coal miners, read the scribbled last words of one of the miners who died in the mining accident at sago, west virginia, in 2006. i was governor at that time. in the pitch black of the mine, the miner, mr. martin toller, jr., wrote tell all i'll see them on the other side. i love you. it wasn't bad. just went to sleep. can you imagine? they were all sitting in that area, knowing what their fate would be. from the very beginning, coal mining was tough and demanding. it still is. but today it also is safe and efficient, and it's even high tech. in the 1880's, coal miners were
learning how to use mules and donkeys to haul coal through the mines. today they are training in robotics, automation and positioning technologies. and the pay is good. starting out around $60,000 a year, sometimes even as much as $80,000 a year. coal mining provides more than 20,000 direct jobs in west virginia at an average wage above $79,000 per person. generating more than $1.6 billion in income. but it also accounts for another 25,500 indirect jobs in west virginia, and the most recent available data show the economic impact of the coal industry in west virginia equals nearly $20 billion a year. $20 billion a year in my little state. to the miner, coal is the energy business. so they are mystified when they hear talk out of washington about getting rid of coal. even as we continue to try to achieve energy independence. they can't understand why their
own government tries to kill the good, well-paying jobs that support their families and provide the energy this country needs. and i can't understand it either. i really can't. it doesn't make any sense. coal is america's most significant source of electricity and it will continue to be for decades to come. the united states holds the largest estimated recoverable reserves of coal in the world, enough to last nearly 300 years. coal currently generates almost 40% of electricity in america and our own energy department reports that our country will get 37% of its energy from coal at least through 2040. so it's obvious that removing it in our energy mix will have disastrous consequences for our economy, which is still trying to get back on both feet. we need an all-of-the-above energy policy that uses every energy source we have.
hydroelectric, nuclear, biomass, renewables, fossil fuels, including coal. you can't tell the history of america without telling the history of coal, and you can't plan an energy future for america without coal. to put it in a nutshell, mr. president, there is 8 billion tons of coal being burnt in the world today. 1 billion tons of coal is being burnt in america. for those who are saying that we are destroying the climate, the global climate, because of the coal that we're burning, we burn it better and cleaner than most any nation on earth. i am not a climate scientist but i do know that the ocean currents and the wind currents do not start and stop in north america. i do know that. and i know if you stop burning every ton of coal in america
thinking you're going to save the climate of the world when there's 7 billion other tons of coal being burnt and it's growing faster than at any time in history, we have oceanfront property in west virginia as a bargain for you. that's what we're dealing with today. it doesn't make any sense at all. so i know i have my good friend here that is the leading energy producer in the country from the good state of north dakota, my dear friend, senator, senator h. mr. hoeven: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. hoeven: i'm pleased to join my distinguished colleague from west virginia in this discussion of an energy source that's vital to our nation and that's coal. north dakota, like the great state of west virginia, is a major coal producing state and a major energy producing state. and i think that my distinguished colleague from west virginia hit the nail on the head when he said, we need a
comprehensive energy plan in this country that is truly all of the above. we need to use all of our energy resources. and different states have different types of energy. and every of type of energy has different strengths and weaknesses. the kind of energy we produce in one part of the country is the source of producing that energy is different than in another part of the country. but the point is, if we take an all-of-the-above approach, we can be truly energy independent in this country, but also think of the jobs and the economic growth that comes with it. and my colleague just went through how coal, for example, creates tremendous jobs and he's right. good-paying jobs. so when we talk about an all-of-the-above energy approach, we're talking not just about national security in terms of energy independence, not getting our -- not depending on the middle east or venezuela or these other places for our energy.
that's national security. but it's also about economic growth and jobs and opportunities, great living for families, great -- a great way to earn and generate income for our families across this -- this nation. and that's what a real all-of-the-above energy approach is about. so when the administration talks about an all-of-the-above energy plan, they've got to not just talk about it, they've got to do it. it's not just talking about it, it's making it happen. and the way you make it happen is you have a clear legal, regulatory and tax climate that encourages investment, doesn't hold it up. endara cowrnlings investment,end doesn't tie it up. when you make that investment, what happens you is not only imriews more energy but you deploy these new technologies that do it with better
environmental stewardship. so let's go back to the issue of coal. my distinguished colleague's talking about coal in his state. well, coal in north dakota, we're a major producer of coal and a major -- we're a powerhouse for energy in this country, not just coal but oil and gas, we do renewables, solar, biodiesel, ethanol. we do wind. we do all of them. okay? but in the area of coal, we are one of the leaders in deploying these new technologies, and as a result, we are one of 14 states in the nation that meets all ambient air quality standards nationally. okay? so think about that. here we are. we're a major coal producing state, we're a major electricity producing state, yet we are one of 14 states in the country that meets all ambient air quality requirements. what am i saying? what i'm saying is, when you deploy these new technologies, when you empower that investment that gets that capital invested
in these new technologies, you deploy that technology, you produce more energy, you create great jobs, you grow our economy and you get better environmental stewardship. mr. manchin: senator, if i may ask this. you and i know the facts of what we do and how we do it, much on energy we produce. both of our states are energy producing states. we're net exporters of energy, correct? mr. hoeven: correct. mr. manchin: here in washington, in the atmosphere that you're looked upon, in the atmosphere that you enter into, do they believe we throw caution to the wind and we don't care about the environment because we come from an energy state? is that what you're finding when you talk to other colleagues that might not know what an energy producing state's about but they sure like what we do? mr. hoeven: and i would respond to my colleague, that's exactly what i say. here we are a major coal producing states. we're one of 14 states that meets all ambient air quality qualities. we're number one in the county. we're rated right at the top in terms of our water and our save our lakes and protect our water
programs, and that's the point you're making. and that's the point i try make all the time. with a states-first approach, states are the ones that cannot only encourage that investment but take tremendous pains to make sure they're protecting the environment, growing the economy and taking care of the people that live in those states as well. that's why what we need to do to truly have an all-of-the-above energy plan for this country is to empower states and empower that investment that we're talking about for all types of energy. don't say all of the above as a federal government and then come up with regulations that preve prevent, block, preclude the very investment we need to deploy these technologies and produce energy from coal and other sources. mr. manchin: let me ask another question then. if the plan the president's put forward makes it almost impossible to build another coal plant and maybe shut down many in this country, is there still going to be a demand for your coal overseas, will you be
exporting that coal? it will be burnt somewhere in the world? mr. hoeven: again, my colleague makes a graipt pointe great poia factual point. and that is, what we're seeing happening as a result of the red tape and regulations that the administration is continuing to put forward and is proposing, again, to add to in its most recent policy pronouncement on energy, what the net effect of that is to preclude investment, is to preclude not only developing new plants with the latest, greatest technologies that will help us take steps forward, exciting steps forward in clean coal technology, but it's forcing existing plants to shut down because the requirements aren't feasible, they can't be met with the current technology. and as you shut those plants down, you not only lose the energy, lose the jobs, lose the economic growth here at home, but the coal then is still mined and now exported to other countries where it's consumed in those other countries that have lower standards than we do.
and think -- and think if instead you empowered the kind of technology and the investment and the technology i'm talking about in this country, other countries would follow us so that then when they use their coal, they use these new technologies as well and on a global basis you start to actually reduce emissions and produce some better environmental stewardship. and again, i would turn back to my colleague for his thoughts. mr. manchin: let me just say this, senator. i found out today, the information i received today was most disturbing from this standpoint. we all know that if we could develop and have a partnership with our government, with the e.p.a., with the department of energy of finding the latest, greatest of technology that helped us still be able to use the most abundant resource and the most -- and the resources and the most demand for the whole world, correct? if we could do that, then we could truly make a difference in the global climate. we truly could. nation -- worldwide. i found out today -- i'm going to make sure these figures are accurate -- that there's $8 billion. so the administration can tell
me and you, saying, senators, guess what? we still have $8 billion of clean coal technology in a line item for the energy, department of energy. guess what, my dear friend? that $8 billion has been line itemed since 2008 and not one project's been approved to be used the money for. i don't know if you've found that but we haven't had the technology perfected on a commercial basis for carbon capture sequestration. you've got a coal-to-liquid plant, i believe. and it's work well for how many years? mr. hoeven: i would say to my colleague you're exactly right. you've hit the nail on the head. we're talking about clean coal technology and encouraging development of clean coal technology but to do it, you've got to have regulations that are attainable and that are feasible that encourage the kind of investment we're talking about. the project that you're referring to is the docketa gasification company which has been operating now in our state successfully for years and what it does is it actually takes
coal and it converts that coal to synthetic natural gas. natural gas. that natural gas then goes in a pipeline, goes for all different uses and meets the co2 requirements that the administration is talking about attaining right now because it's natural gas. it meets the natural gas standard and the coal, the coal that we burn then we capture the co2, we compress it, put it in a pipeline and it goes into the oil fields for tertiary or second taxpayer recovery. we're producing more oil from the oil fields. that's an example of the technology and the capital investment and the kind of regulatory environment that encourages technology development to not only produce more energy, more jobs and crowing growing the economy but as my colleague is pointing out, better environmental stewardship. that's how you get it done not just in this country but globally. exactly right. mr. manchin: if i can ask this question, do you believe you
could have built that plant in north dakota today under the regulations of the e.p.a. the way they're putting the thumb on us? mr. hoeven: this is exactly the point. we need these kind of projects. work with us as states to empower that kind of development, not to shut it off. you're exactly right. i yield back. mr. manchin: what we're saying is that how many people would think in west virginia i have one of the largest wind farms east of the mississippi? how many do you think realize that? they think we're a one-horse show, right? we have wind, we have gas, we have coal. we have nuclear, biofuel -- not nuclear, i'm sorry, hydro, and biofuel. we are all in. we're trying to use every resource we have, the best that we can. and all we're asking for is a partnership and it's so hard to find and the people can't
understand it. there's an old saying back home you can't live with me and you can't live without me but i'll guarantee you'll live a lot better with me and this you will without me. this country can't live us today and can't live without us but they've lived pretty durn good with us than against it. our little states are doing the heavy lifting, sir. our little states have done the heavy lifting. we're providing the energy this country needs. we're providing the economic opportunities to compete globally. if they continue to overregulate to the point they strangle us, they're strangling the economics of this country. and i'm just praying to the good lord they'll listen to us, sir. mr. hoeven: i would say to my distinguished colleague i've been to west virginia, it is an absolutely beautiful state. i mean it is breathtaking and hills and its valleys and the bridges over rivers, it's just a gorgeous, beautiful state. and as my distinguished colleague is saying, what we're
talking about is an opportunity. we have a real opportunity to do this and do it right. but we've got to get the federal government to work with us. whether it's the great state of west virginia, the great state of north dakota, or across this country. and, you know, it's not just in coal. it really is in all of these different types of energy. but you've got to work with the states, take a states-first approach that empowers them, that unleashes the entrepreneurial spirit of this country. that's what we need, not a big regulatory maze nobody can get through. we're talking about common sense. common sense that empowers us to do things that can make a big difference for this country. again, mr. president, i yield back to my distinguished colleague. mr. manchin: i say to my good friend, here we are, a democrat and a republican from two energy states, it's not bipartisan, energy should have no partisanship. energy is something we all need
and we use. when you open that refrigerator you need that energy to keep it cold. when you go into a house, out of 100-degree weather you need to be cool and comfortable. you need energy, it's a basic quality of life, basically made us different than most every nation. and every developing nation today is trying everything they can to deliver what we taker granted. all we're asking for is for our president -- he's my president, he's your president president, he is all of our president --, to work with him. we want to be our partner. don't be my adversary, be my ally. we can do it but we've got to be serious about it. if there is $8 billion sitting on the sideline at the department of energy and you're telling me we're going to use that for clean coal technology, let's start using it. let's be a lead are of the world and show the other seven million tons of coal being consumed in the world how you can do it and do it better. that's what we're saying. to my good friend from north
dakota, i appreciate so much the approach he's been taking, a most common sense, a most reasonable, responsible approach. we have been friends for a long time, we were both governors of our respective states, we worked together, we try to solve problems. it's what we're still doing here in the senate. thank you, sir. mr. hoeven: i'd like to thank my distinguished colleague not only for his work on energy, which he's already recognized as an energy leader in this body but also most recently for student loans. he has taken a bipartisan lead on student loans that jbl -- i believe has produced a great product which i'm pleased and proud to cosponsor which i believe this body will come together next week on and pass, and i think if we pass it the house will take it up and pass it right away. it's just a great -- it's so important for our students, so important for our students and families, and it's just such a great example of what we can do working together.
and i think that the good senator from west virginia does this so well, and i want to thank him and -- whether it's energy or student loans or just a lot of other issues, i just want to express my deep appreciation and my fondness for working with him on these important issues. i yield. mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent to speak for just five minutes on another very important issue. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hoeven: mr. president, i rise today to speak on an issue of great importance to our country and one that we need to act on and we need to act on now and that's the farm bill. we in the senate have passed a strong farm bill. utt it saves $24 billion to help
reduce our debt and our deficit. it streamlines our farm programs to make them more efficient and more usable for our farmers and our ranchers and it ensures our farmers and ranchers continue to have good risk-management tools they need to manage their operations, particularly enhanced crop insurance which is so important for our farmers and ranchers. and now the house, too, has passed a farm bill and sent it over to us here in the senate so we have it. and i rise today to urge my colleagues to join with me and form a conference committee with the house now to get this farm bill done for our farmers and ranchers. and not just for our farmers and ranchers but for the american people. this really is about serving the american people and it is about making sure that we continue to have the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the
world. in the world. and that means every single american benefits from good farm policy. and we need to move on this. we need to act. the current farm bill expires september 30 and we're already operating under a one-year extension. it is time, we need to get going, we need to get this done, we need a long-term farm bill in place for our farmers and for our ranchers. as i said, right now all americans benefit from the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world. but the farm bill is more than just a food bill. it is a jobs bill as well. right now in our country there is something on the order of 16 million jobs on a direct and indirect basis, more than 16 million jobs that depend on agriculture. so businesses, large and small, across this great nation, depend on agriculture. in addition, agriculture has a
favorable balance of trade for our country. let me give you a few statistics. this year it's estimated we will export almost $140 billion worth of ag products. think of all the dollars, the revenue that comes back to our country, the job creation, the economic growth, the employment at a time we need to create more jobs in this country, $140 billion that we export in food products all over the world supporting jobs and economic activity in this country. and a favorable balance of trade that helps us in terms of our financial situation, a favorable balance of trade almost $30 billion. in 2012 exports more than $135 billion, in 2011, more than $137 billion in ag products from this country supporting jobs and economic activity in this country and a favorable balance
of trade of more than $40 billion. and finally, agriculture is about more than just food. it is about fuel and fiber and it is about national security. we do not have to depend on other countries for a food supply because our farmers and ranchers take care of it right here at home. so it really is even a national security issue as well. making sure that we have the food supply that's dependable, nutrition, highest quality, lowest cost, in the world right here available to us at all times. one other point i'll make before i conclude and that is that our farmers and ranchers are stepping forward at a time when we have a deficit and a debt and they're doing their part to help address this deficit and debt. $24 billion in savings when the balance twal portion of the farm bill that actually deals with farmers is less than 20% of the
total bill. and our farmers are stepping forward and helping the deficit with $24 billion in reduction. just think for a minute. if we could do that across government, think of the impact it would have in terms of helping us reduce this deficit and get our deficit and debt under control in this country. it is time to move forward with the farm bill, and the next step is to go to conference committee with the house. we need to get that done, we need to get that done now. and get a long-term farm bill in place for our farmers, for our ranchers and for this great nation. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: